index   The Lancet. May 28. 1881. Page: 877.

TIGHT-LACING.

Last week a verdict was returned by a coroner's jury which is quite as applicable to not a few cases of premature death which do not happen to be made the subject of medico-legal inquiry.   It is difficult to speak with moderation of the folly of tight-lacing in view of such facts as this, especialiy as no attention seems ever to be paid to the warnings repeated ad nauscam against irrational and unhealthy modes of dress.   Physiology does not enter into the sphere of the "fashions," the follies of which are productive of more suffering and ill-health than people are willing to concede.   In spite of satire on one side and admonition on the other, there seems to be but little diminution in the degree to which these vagaries are carried, as may be proved by anyone who walks abroad during the height of a London season.   Why is it that in this matter of "tight-lacing" there should be such tenacity, for there is hardly any subject that has been so unmercifully and yet so necessarily criticised as this?   There are only two possible reasons for its maintenance--the one that it is indispensable to the present form of female attire, and the other that it is believed to lend grace to the wearer.   Neither of these contentions can seriously be maintained in the face of the known evils which follow the practice, but they are at present ideas so firmly rooted in the female mind that their dislodgment is not easily effected.   Now and then, indeed, there seems to be an attempt to introduce a more rational style of dress, but such attempts are rarely successful, owing in great measure to the disposition to ridicule new departures which do not harmonise with the "mode."   The medical profession has never ceased to express its opinion upon the evils of tight-lacing, being well aware of the derangements for which the practice is responsible.   To be effectual, however, such remonstrances must be given not only to those who follow the practice, but to those who either tacitly or openly encourage it.   We are treading, we know, on delicate ground, but it is time there should be plain speaking, even at the risk of giving offence, for it must be confessed--and it is no disparagement to the fair sex to admit it--that so long as men persist in regarding an unnatural deformity as a beautiful object, so long will many women do their utmost to become "beautiful," no matter how painful the ordeal to which they will have to submit.   A wellknown writer upon female dress not very long since admitted that it was the object of women so to dress as to render themselves attractive to the opposite sex, thereby following out a law which obtains throughout animal creation, and of which there is no denying the truth.   But the same author spoke out boldly against the practice of tight-lacing, showing that in her opinion, at any rate, the practice was not essential for the purpose above stated.   In all seriousness, it is a pitiful thing that in these days, when all our youth can obtain an insight into the principles of physiology, there should still prevail a practice so unphysiological as that of which we speak.   It stands to reason that long-continued, firm compression of the lower ribs cannot be indulged in with impunity.   The dorsal, thoracic, and abdominal muscles are rendered feeble from enforced inactivity, respiration is impeded, circulation is carried on under greater strain, and the viscera are displaced to a remarkable degree.   In the case which forms the text of these remarks, not only was the liver deeply indented and displaced, but the stomach was constricted into two portions, and both of these effects have often been observed before.   The affections attributed to tight-lacing are many and various--some perhaps without sufficient ground; but most certainly respiratory, circulatory, and digestive derangements, not to mention difficulties and dangers in parturition, are directly traceable to tight-lacing.   Such derangements lead the way to other and graver changes; they may cause many ailments which render life a misery, or may eventually lead to the premature extinction of life--not perhaps directly, but by rendering the organism unable to cope with disease, however arising.   Once more, then, we urge the female members of the community to abandon this fatal article of attire; its utilitarian purpose could no doubt be supplied by means at once more simple and less injurious; and its æsthetic function exists only in the imagination, being grounded on the false and perverted, notion that the natural contour of the body is ungraceful, whilst the deformed, contracted waist" is considered beautiful in proportion as its constriction is extreme.